Sunday, October 22, 2006

There is a Chinese saying:

I hear, I forget
I see, I remember
I do, I understand

This emphasizes learning by doing (or "service learning" jargonically), a very effective way of learning. Watching someone else do something looks too easy, until you actually get your hands on the job. The key to learning, therefore, is to just do it.

There's one more step, however. Time and again, I have amazed myself with the ability with which I forget things. I forget even those things that I discovered for myself in the first place! This undoes the learning I've earned, and something must be done to "retain" it.

Repetitions help in retention of learned material. For example, revising a book, writing the same paper again with a new viewpoint after a gap, trying to play an old song from college days on guitar, etc. Sometimes, even email reminders can do the trick for simple things (e.g. remembering events or facts like birthdays, tax submission dates etc).

Memory of learning gets consolidated by repetitions. Each new repetition adds to the previous, but permanence will still not be achieved. To keep the material in the memory, we have to keep practicing it. To keep practicing, we can join that profession, make a hobby out of it, or tie it to something else that is part of our routine. Different approaches work for different needs.

In this context, I remember a website, where you can know other people who want to do the same thing as you. The site can also send you reminders to help you "get started" on your work. 43things is just one part of a bigger theme of social collaboration, which you'll find by exploring the site a little bit more.

I shall explore memorization and learning in more details later... perhaps after this holiday season as school is keeping me too busy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Official Google Mac Blog: Google and your Mac

Official Google Mac Blog: Google and your Mac

Google has now started a brand new blog focusing on Macs, another step forward in their embracement of the Mac.

The page has links to mac software developed by Google, Dashboard widgets for Mac OS X, a mini tutorial on Picasa Web Albums, and some more information. Check it out!

Monday, October 02, 2006

How I fooled Digg and made it to the frontpage

Introduction (please skip)

On March 6, 2006, a Google search directed me to a page at The content of the page was relevant to what I was searching for, and it was provocative enough to make me write a comment. Since anonymous comments are not allowed at Digg, I had to register. However, I did not follow up after that... until a time came when a fan submitted my site to Digg and it won the day. Shortly thereafter, I just had "too much time at my hand". And since the last two months or so, I find myself taking excessive interest in the activities at, sometimes spending almost the entire day there.

My first look at

Being new to the Digg community, I was noticing what experienced diggers may miss. Sometimes I noticed honest content getting buried, and lame or fraudulent stories being promoted to the frontpage.

But how could that be? I believe "50 people cannot be wrong, the fault lies in you". Was I wrong? How could I tell?

I saw perfect stage for an experiment here.

My Digg Experiment: Part One

I was analyzing the traffic data for my dugg website, and was noticing some interesting patterns. Initially, I was tempted to generalize those findings (e.g. 60% of us use Firefox), but then realized that it was lame, as most of the hits were coming from and Firefox is more popular among tech-savvy users. Everyone knows that.

Does everyone know that, really? I decided to present the results of my traffic analysis in a wrong way to, and see if the story still makes it to the frontpage.

So I committed the act. I edited the original draft to insert misleading information. I then submitted this misleading and inaccurate story to Digg early morning on Sunday (when people are least likely to notice).

So my story doesn't have quality, has fraudulent information, and is submitted at a time when it's least likely to be noticed. Right?

Yes alright, but let's take a look at what happened.

The Experiment Begins

After submission to, the fraudulent story kept quiet for about 10 hours (mere 35 diggs in first 10 hours). But then, the diggers "woke up" (4pm Sunday) and began taking interest in my story. In less than two hours, the story had 150+ diggs and was on frontpage! That was easy, and interesting!

I watched on, and more interesting developments took place.

I was keeping a close watch on the comments page at Digg, and the 4th commentator marked my story as inaccurate. Actually the first commentator had pointed out the inaccuracy, but in a blurred fashion. The story is on the frontpage now, and more people visited the story, and said it's inaccurate (and I presume marked it as such). Nothing interesting about it, right?


The negative comments were increasing in number as expected, but the number of diggs were increasing as well! What's going on here??? How can the diggers digg an inaccurate story? They are the best critics of technology related articles, right?

Umm... maybe.

What was happening here???

Many people who dugg the story did not read it thoroughly. They just "liked the idea" of my story that Apple and Linux are eating Microsoft away, and dugg this in its face value. They dugg what they like. They dugg what they want the reality to be, without knowing the reality at all.

Now comes part two of my experiment.

My Digg Experiment : Part Two

Okay, so my story is now on digg frontpage, despite most people actually agreeing that it is misleading. Here, I try to do a "fixing" act. I logged on to and silently made two "little" changes to my story. I appended "for diggers" to the title and "by diggers" to the first paragraph. This makes the the story's first few lines look more authentic. However, I did not make any changes to the rest of the story, so the rest of it was still biased and misleading. Now, we have a story of "mosaic quality" where some parts say the truth, and some do not.

It's like half truth.

Or half lie, if you will.

As soon as I corrected the first few lines of my story, some digg users suddenly started evangelizing me. They commented on Digg that others did not read the story correctly, and are falsely blaming nixdoctor (me!). Just as one person said this, others joined the brigade, and there was a small group coming to my rescue. Heated discussions ensued over "reading skills", and difference between "listening and just hearing". While diggers were digging each other down, I sat at rest, watching them.

I also wanted to see how many people post on my blog (apart from posting at and many people did that (I had enabled anonymous comments to make life easier for diggers). Many comments were constructive, offering me advice. Four were simple insults (deleted).

My experiment is over.

  1. It is easy to fool Digg and its community, at least in the short run
  2. This happens because not all Digg users read the posts thoroughly
  3. Carefully crafted stories that are far from truth, but appease the tastes of diggers can make it to the frontpage, before being buried finally.
  4. Good content can be buried because it has no entertainment value.
  5. Good comments can be modded down if they do not have entertainment value.
  6. Some diggers will simply abuse others, while others will offer constructive suggestions for the same story. (Tip: If you can stand criticism, Digg can be a good resource to improve, because others will offer you suggestions, bundled with sarcasm, of course)
  7. Webmasters can click quickly too. (In this case, not even a single Digger noticed that I have changed the title of the story on the original page later - they could have easily compared via
My Comments

Digg is an excellent source for sharing entertaining information about technology and current affairs. I use it for pure entertainment. Digg needs more tools in its box to thwart bad stories making it to frontpage.

More to come...

My next story concerning Digg is a short, correct, quality story, and will make it to the ftontpage. Why? Because I'll make sure it entertains us diggers. And it'll be on this blog.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Market share of Operating Systems & Browsers for diggers

One of my websites was dugg recently, and I collected a lot of data using google analytics. Considering the large amount of data I collected is representative of current trends in technology usage by diggers, here are the results:

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Market share of Apple and Linux is cutting into Microsoft among Diggers

Apple's market share used to be 5% as declared by Steve Jobs in a keynote last year. Around the same time, they introduced the new intel-based computers, and they've been selling like hot cakes ever since. Apple has 10% of market share among Diggers!

The growth of Linux is also commendable. Linux doesn't enjoy the power of being an organized company, but the power of community is benefitting it.

Firefox is the most popular internet browser among Diggers

This one should be a no-brainer to everyone. Firefox is the leader in browser market. 70% of us use Firefox. But what about the others?

Internet Explorer is a distant second. I wonder why does IE still survive with millions of bugs found and exploited successfully before being repaired. Most probably because it comes pre-installed with the most popular operating system. Or because of higher percentage of masochism in humans than previously thought.

Safari is a good browser too, but loses out in market share because it's Mac only. Now market share of Mac is 11%, and 5% use Safari = half of all Mac users browse the internet via Safari.

The figures for Opera are difficult to explain though...! I have used Opera and found it to be an extremely good browser. I think more people abandoned it in favor of Firefox two years back. Firefox trounced not only IE's market share, but also Opera's.

Related link: